Academy Xi, an Australian virtual reality education startup, has just reeled in $2.25 million in a Series A round, short of their target which was set at $4 million earlier this year. Capital raising was led by Perle Ventures, and Alium Capital also provided support. However, co-founder and chief executive, Ben Wong, explained that the round didn’t have to hit $4 million due to postponing of the new VR education platform until 2018.
Perle managing director, Michael An, said, “We’re planning to take the business global, making Academy Xi synonymous with startups, efficient growth and a core function for corporates. Academy Xi is solving an important need and helping build the future.”
Academy Xi offers classes for individuals, corporations, and startups that wish to broaden their knowledge in virtual reality and augmented reality technologies. With only a year of existance behind the company, huge names like Arup, Staples, Dentsu, and PWC has all trained staff at Academy Xi.
Original seed funding came courtesy of Lighthouse Sydney chief executive, Annie Parker, while Vivant took a 10% stake in Academy Xi for $250 thousand in July of 2016.
Wong said that the business was originally started because of a massive skills shortage found in Australia. “The shortage of digital talent is a chronic problem in Australia, an issue that is being neglected. Our first goal is to close the digital skills gap,” he said.
What the startup is now developing is a School of the Future, which will offer courses in skills that are in high-demand. This includes things VR and AR skills, service design, growth marketing, and user experience design. The company expect that it will train around 1300 individuals in the next year, while 8500 other people will gain skills at workshops and shorter classes.
“By 2020, we expect to train at least 200,000 people in high demand fields of design and emerging technology. Our alumni will be some of the most sought-after people in Australia and the wider Asia-Pacific,” said co-founder and chief experience officer Charbel Zeaiter.
According to CEO Wong, the funds that have been raised are going to be used to expand the business in Sydney and Melbourne while also “setting foundations” for moving into Brisbane and Singapore.
“We’re preparing people for the future by providing them with an emerging skill set,” he said.
“Nowadays, one person with design or development skills can affect a billion people. The world has shifted and anyone has the power to be what they’re supposed to be.”
He further notes that many Australian students are training or studying for careers that will not exist or will be completely different in 10 or 20 years. Academy Xi may be the start to changing that depressing outlook. With $2.25 million in the coffers, it remains to be seen just what impacts this company will have on the landscape of Australia, and perhaps even beyond. But putting money on training and education can hardly be a bad thing.